The largest chess tournament ever held in human history was the 1997 Scholastic Supernationals held in Knoxville, Tennessee in May, which had 4235 players! Naturally, we chess players and organizers are congratulating ourselves on this. However, in reality this was a windfall arising from an unprecedented number of popular movies and media events idolizing chess and chess players, of which the movies "Searching for Bobby Fischer" and "Fresh" are just two examples.
Chess is suddenly popular among a broad spectrum of our kids. "Chess in the Schools" programs abound all over America. It helps that a study has been published by chess master Stuart Margulies proving that teaching your kid to play chess will raise his or her IQ by 30 points. (Margulies is not new at this. He is also the author of the book "Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess" which he wrote more than 30 years ago which uses methods of programmed learning developed by himself and other educational psychologists.)
Because of the enormous expansion of scholastic chess in just the last two or three years, a new factor has reared its ugly head: Money! Scholastic tournaments create enormous money making opportunities for organizers. Think of it. The kids pay entry fees, and yet they receive no cash prizes. The kids plus their parents fly in from all over the US paying for their hotel rooms and sparing no expense on behalf of their children. Any hotel fortunate enough to be the site for a big scholastic event is sure to reap big bucks in profits. We are not talking peanuts here. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars!
This may explain why one candidate for USCF Policy Board, Garrett Scott, is demanding that exclusive control over scholastic chess be placed with the "scholastic coalition" of which he is the chairman and that the USCF Policy Board and executive office should have no say in the awarding of bids for scholastic tournaments.
It is not only the organizers and the hotels who reap the financial benefit. Chess masters are now finding that there is almost unlimited work available teaching chess to kids. Even weak players who barely know the difference between a bishop and a rook are able to get jobs as chess coaches.
I am all in favor of chess players making money. Chess Masters have suffered in poverty for years. Now it is time to reap some reward.
However, there are problems. One which has come to my attention is that some scholastic organizers, after signing up a kid as a member of the USCF, do not send the child's name and address to the USCF office. Instead, they provide their own address as the address of the child. This means that when the USCF mails the monthly magazine, either Chess Life or School Mates, to the member, the organizer engaging in this practice gets several hundred copies of the magazine himself, which presumably he distributes to the kids he signed up.
This practice is absolutely terrible. The kids need to receive their magazine and the USCF needs to be able to contact its members directly. Unfortunately, there is no rule against this.
One organizer who is said to engage in this nefarious practice is Stan Vaughan of Las Vegas, Nevada. I do not know the truth of this allegation. However, recent Stan Vaughan mailings have provided some surprising numbers. Around two years ago, Vaughan formed a new corporation he called the "Nevada State Chess Association, Inc." In so doing, he supplanted the name of the long established Nevada State Chess Association, which was merely an un-incorporated association. Vaughan has ever since claimed that his corporation is the official body of Nevada chess, to the exclusion of the "Nevada State Chess Association" without the "Inc." Vaughan's group has banned for life Allen Magruder, Jerry Weikel, Ken Horne, Dan Conver, Ed Kelley from membership in the "Nevada State Chess Association Inc." and has expelled Carol Jarecki and 17 others from membership in his organization. These are all USCF officers and delegates and members of the un-incorporated "Nevada State Chess Association." None of these persons ever joined the Nevada State Chess Association, Inc. Rather, Vaughan previously automatically declared that any USCF member residing in Nevada was a member of his organization.
In short, Stan Vaughan made these people members, and then expelled them! He has also filed several small claims lawsuits against the above individuals personally.
The reason this affects scholastic chess is that Stan Vaughan is primarily a scholastic organizer. For example, when the USCF ran its Supernationals in Knoxville, Tennessee, Stan Vaughan on the same weekend held his own "Supernationals" in Las Vegas, Nevada. No doubt, there was some confusion among parents as to which was the real USCF "Supernationals" and some may have mistakenly gone to the wrong tournament.
In an earlier year, Stan Vaughan sent a letter to the principal of a local high school in Las Vegas informing him that the students in his school had been banned from competing in Nevada chess events, apparently because they had sent their students to the real USCF event. This is one of the grounds raised for revoking Stan Vaughan's tournament director certification.
The Summer, 1997 issue of Stan Vaughan's "ZugZwang" magazine provides the election results for offices in his "Nevada State Chess Association, Inc.". The results show that Stan Vaughan's candidate, Tom Klem, was elected with 648 votes, ahead of Jerry Weikel, who is the actual president of the Nevada State Chess Association (without the "Inc."), who got only 6 votes.
Are there actually 648 USCF members in Nevada? Nevada is the fastest growing state in the US. No longer solely associated with gambling and nuclear testing, Nevada is an emerging industrial center. As the population flows in, so do big bucks devoted to chess.
The other election results were: For Secretary, Stan Vaughan was elected with 644 votes ahead of Ed Kelly who got only one vote.
For at Large Board Members, Greg Niemi received 654 votes followed by Kari Pappin with 559 votes and Glenda Bradford with 186 and George Vaughan (the son of Stan Vaughan is 10 years old) with 96 votes.
Trailing badly in this "election" were Carol Jarecki with 6 votes and Allen Magruder also with 6 votes.
Carol Jarecki is one of the most popular personalities in chess. She has been interviewed on CNN News and elsewhere in the media. The idea that a ten year old kid could get 96 votes and Carol Jarecki would receive only 6 votes is preposterous, even in a stacked and unfair election.
The answer seems obvious. Most of those voting were kids. Since Stan Vaughan uses his own address as the address for the kids he signs up, all those ballots went to Stan Vaughan himself.
This has implications for the USCF. One of the items on the agenda of the upcoming delegates meeting in Orlando, Florida is a proposal which I strongly favor entitled "One Man One Vote" or sometimes "One Member One Vote". This proposal is opposed by a group of crusty curmudgeons who call themselves the "Blue Ribbon Committee", which is composed of the very shitheads who have long controlled US Chess and whom we need to get rid of in the worst possible way. Under their proposal, the members would only be allowed to vote for their own state delegates.
Do you see the problems? There are many. One problem is that with a large block of USCF members in Nevada having been signed up by Stan Vaughan and with the ballots being mailed to Stan Vaughan himself, he really will be able to take control of Nevada chess and send his own personal delegates to the USCF Meetings. Moreover, if he can get enough like minded persons around the country, they can collectively take over the USCF. Indeed, it is readily apparent from his mailings that Stan Vaughan long ago thought of this and is planning to do exactly that.
Therefore, I propose a new rule: All members of the USCF must provide their actual residence address to the USCF in order to be members in good standing. Without a showing of hardship, PO Box addresses and other non-residence addresses will not be accepted.
This will solve other problems as well. For example, there is the problem of "Life Members" who died years ago but who still receive their magazine. It has been estimated that there are about one thousand dead life members.
This would also address another type of problem. Last year an organizer in Virginia was caught sending in fake tournament results of fake members including one established master from Hawaii who had not played in many years. This organizer "joined" the USCF in their behalf and used his own address as the address of these fake members. Fortunately, he did this in a crude and obvious way and eventually was caught. There might be other similar organizers out there who are a bit more clever that we do not know about.
I realize that an unscrupulous or dishonest organizer could easily cheat and find a way around my new proposed rule, but at least there would be a rule. My proposed rule is: "When joining or renewing membership in the USCF, the actual residence address of the member must be provided. Nominee addresses are not allowed. Members are required to keep their addresses current."
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